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time, I may live as I list; I need neither to believe, to repent, or to use the means of obtaining salvation : and though I live after the flesh, I shall be saved, being elected.
Answ. To this thread bare objection, which is commonly in the mouths of all cavillers against the doctrine of election, I answer in two particulars.
First, This objection doth not, in the least, find any encouragement from the doctrine of particular election before time, as will evidently appear by the inseparableness of the end and the means, asserted and held forth in the word of God, and constantly maintained by the orthodox against Papists, Arminians, &c.
He who hath elected to life eternal, he hath also elected to the means; such as believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, held forth and offered in the gospel; repenting for sinning against God; advancing in holiness, and persevering in the same to the end. From whence it plainly appears, that he who makes this objection is either wilfully ignorant, not in the least understanding the doctrine of election according to divine revelation, or, which is unspeakably worse, an affected caviller and a wicked subverter of the gospel. Suppose I should query of the Papist, the Arminian, the Quaker, and Free-willer, who are all agreed in opposing and decrying the doctrine of particular election before time, and perseverance to the end, whether they believe that God hath decreed, or
absolutely determined in himself, how long he or they shall live or continue in this world? the answer will undoubtedly be in the affirmative, viz. That God hath decreed or determined, in himself, how long he or they are to live or continue in this world.
If then, say I, you believe that God hath decreed in himself how long you are to live or continue in this world, what need you to mind any of the concerns of this world for the support of human life? Why will you so insatiably covet the perishing riches and the transitory pleasures of the present world, seeing God hath decreed how long you are to live?
The answer again will be, He that hath decreed how long I am to live in this world, he hath also decreed, and in his revealed will commanded me, to exercise my reason, and my other natural faculties, in order to procure and make use of the ordinary means, such as food, raiment, physic, and the like; whereby, in an ordinary way, the life and health of the body are secured and maintained. Here, in the concerns of the body, they are sharp and witty enough, even to an outdoing thousands of the children of God. But in the concerns of the soul they are as corrupt and heterodox as they are sound and rational in the other.
If a Papist or an Arminian should fix his purpose of building a house in such or such a place, it cannot be rationally supposed that he intends to build without materials; and therefore my reason
tells me, that in order to accomplish that his purpose, he hath also purposed to provide all the several materials necessary for such a purpose.
Qui serio vult finem, media etiam ad finem illum tendentia vult:-He who in good earnest wills the end, he also wills the means leading to that end,-is a sure rule both in logic and divinity. And why these Popish Arminian cavillers should not allow it its proper place in the doctrine of election before time, I can understand no other reason for, than either because God hath judicially smitten them with blindness of mind that they should not be able to understand or believe this amazing doctrine of election before time, or else because God hath left them, as he did Pharaoh, to harden themselves, that they might; with the greater acuteness and stubbornness, oppose and withstand his sovereignty in electing some and reprobating others of the same fallen and corrupted mass, and that before time.
Secondly, As there can be no argument more cogent and irrefragable to evince and prove a man to be either a fool or a madman, than his resolving to expect the accomplishment of an end, such as building a house, or living in the world, without the use of the proportionate means leading to such ends; so there is no argument which more strongly proves a man or woman to be of the number of reprobates, than to expect or hope to go to heaven in the continued and approved neglect of believing in the Son of God, repenting of sin, living a holy
life, and persevering in the same to the end of life.
Object. 4. The doctrine of election before time doth not only encourage to sin, but it leads people to final desperation; for preventing of which all imaginable care ought to be taken to suppress and decry it.
Answ. To this horrid and blasphemous objection, I shall, in Christ's strength, answer in four particulars.
And, First, I do boldly affirm, in the name of the ever blessed Trinity, that this blasphemous objection did originally spring from that spirit which charged the Son of God with casting out devils by Beelzebub, which, if I mistake not, is the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost; and such as peremptorily, with allowance and approbation, persist in making and liking the same against the doctrine of election, so plainly revealed and so positively asserted by the Holy Ghost; I am not afraid to declare and pronounce the children and successors of those Pharisees, now in hell, who vented that unpardonable blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, Matt. xii. 24, 32. Let all cavilling adversaries, who bring this objection against the doctrine of God's absolute and free election before time, have a care they be not found ranked among those mighty sinners who, in the height of their wickedness, run themselves most desperately upon the thick bosses of the Almighty's buckler. Job xv. 26.
Secondly, If the doctrine of election be such a dangerous doctrine as leads to licentiousness, and which, in the end, brings men to desperation, I would fain know how it comes to pass that the enemies of this doctrine are such slaves to their brutish lusts, and why so many of them die in despair when under powerful awakenings and common convictions in their guilty consciences?
Thirdly, I do with greatest confidence and certain assurance, grounded on the word of God, and backed with my own personal experience, affirm, that as the right knowledge and believing of the doctrine of election before time, with a particular application thereof to one's self, is the only doctrine that sets the heart of a true believer against all sin, and which secures and keeps the believer from desperation in the time of the deepest desertion and most violent temptation ; so the doctrine of free-will and general redemption is a doctrine which encourageth to sin, and which necessarily leads to desperation.
Here two things are to be demonstrated: First, That the doctrine of election before time rightly understood, and particularly applied by faith, is the only doctrine which engages the heart of a sond believer against all known sin, and which fortifies and secures the believer against desperation in the time of the deepest desertion and the most violent temptation.
Secondly, that the doctrine of free-will and general redemption, is a doctrine which encou